Faculty Women of Color: The Critical Nexus of Race and Gender

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Abstract

This article examines the experiences of faculty women of color at predominately White public research extensive universities. In the wake of legal challenges to affirmative action, such as Gratz and Grutter, and the proliferation of antiaffirmative action state “Civil Rights Initiatives,” these issues become critically important. This study's central questions were, “What are the lived experiences of faculty women of color in predominately White institutions? ” and “What are the implications of legal challenges to affirmative action, such as Gratz and Grutter, for faculty women of color and their institutions? ” Twelve 90-min focus groups were conducted with 51 faculty women of color from a wide range of academic fields and disciplines, from all regions of the United States, and occupying tenured/tenure track ranks (assistant, associate, and full professors) to further understand their experiences, feelings, and reactions in light of the affirmative action Supreme Court cases. Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Race Feminism (CRF) serve as frameworks to guide our analysis. One main finding is that faculty women of color across three disciplinary areas (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM], Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences [SBE], and Humanities/Arts) experience a knowledge gap on the impact of public policies on their everyday lives. Faculty women of color, along with experiencing the typically documented conditions of tokenism, also report that communication about diversity initiatives and resources on their own campuses was extremely uneven and idiosyncratic.

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